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Monday, 31 December 2007 18:08

WTE Project Nov - Dec 2007

Kerry sea eagles get ready to fly Kerry sea eagles get ready to fly

Irish White-tailed Sea Eagle Reintroduction Project
update period Nov-Dec 2007

SUMMARY
By the beginning of November 14 of 15 birds released in August were still largely "resident" in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area in the southwest of Killarney National Park. Throughout November and December birds began to expand their range, foraging up to 20klm west of the Upper Lake but usually returning to roost at sites on the west side of KNP. During this time most contact with birds was maintained by telemetry although observations of tagged birds was regular up until mid-December particularly along the Upper Lake. One male, tag #1, moved back to the Lower Lake by mid-November and was joined by a second male, tag #9, in mid-December. Both remained largely separate from the main group. By mid-December several birds were foraging over the Brida Valley-L. Brin-Cloon Lough area up to 25klm SW of the release site. During mid-late December birds switched their regular roost to a site at the western edge of KNP. Most birds roosted at this site over the next 2-3 months. Furthest dispersal during the period was by male ð to Knockanore Hill near Ballybunion (57klm N) in mid-December.Apart from occasional use of provisioned food (deer carcasses), birds appeared to concentrate foraging over mountain areas to the west of the Black Valley. Observations suggested that almost all food items were carrion. Reports of birds actively hunting were few although one birds apparently captured a Magpie. Despite close proximity towater birds (mallard, teal, grey heron, cormorant) on the Upper Lake, eagles were never seen actively hunting these species during the period. A brief interaction with the recentlyarrived wintering flock of Greenland White-fronted Geese occurred on 18 November but no further interactions were documented and the geese (13), although often elusive,continued to spend the winter in the Killarney Valley.

Table 1. White-tailed Eagles released in Killarney National Park in 2007. All tags yellow and white on left and right wings respectively. (UL-BV = Upper Lake-Black Valley)

Tag Sex Origin Transmitter Released Last recorded Last location
0 M Vikna B 16-8-07 29-12-07 UL-BV
1 M Storfjorden (Frøya) B 16-8-07 29-12-07 Lower Lake
2 M Vikna LOST 16-8-07 12-11-07 Upper Lake
3 F Vikna GPS PTT 16-8-07 6-11-07 Dead
4 F Moldtun-Snillfjord B 16-8-07 29-12-07 UL-BV
5 M Vobsjøen (Frøya) B 16-8-07 29-12-07 UL-BV
6 M Frøya T 16-8-07 29-12-07 UL-BV
7 F Flatøya (Frøya) B 16-8-07 29-12-07 UL-BV
8 M Hitra T 16-8-07 29-12-07 UL-BV
9 M Leka B 16-8-07 29-12-07 Lower Lake
M Vikna B 29-8-07 19-12-07 N Kerry
X F Kvernøya (Flatanger) T 29-8-07 29-12-07 UL-BV
?: F Halmøya (Flatanger) B 29-8-07 29-12-07 UL-BV
/ F Vikna T 29-8-07 29-12-07 UL-BV
¦ F Storsteinvatnet (Frøya) T 29-8-07 29-12-07 UL-BV


B = backpack, T = tailmount transmitter

FORAGING
Birds were fed at sites in KNP during November and up until late December but were largely finding food and feeding independently throughout the period. Feeding was discontinued as few birds had been feeding at provisioning sites and no birds were feeding at sites by late December. Observations suggest that most birds fed on sheep carrion located in upland areas in the Black Valley and sites to the west, especially mountains between the Black and Brida valleys. On 3 Nov birds 0, 1, 5, and 8 were observed in hills to the west of the Black Valley and birds continued to use this area throughout the period. Several birds fed in the Upper Lake area on 9 Nov and all birds were present in the same area on 12 Nov. On 14 Dec an eagle was seen feeding on a dead sheep hit by car near Molls Gap (J. Kissane). By the time I arrived no birds were feeding but bird ¦á was signaled in the area. Four birds were located in flight at the head of the Black Valley on 15 Dec and one, bird #6, flew down to feed on sheep carrion on hillside above Lough Reagh. By 17 December several birds were foraging to the west of the Black Valley in the Brida-L. Brin-Cloon Lough area.

DISPERSAL
Apart from daily foraging to the west of KNP, only one bird, male horizontal bar (ðBTO1652), dispersed away from the core area but returned at intervals to forage and roost with other birds in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area. On 28 Nov a sea eagle observed on Mullaghanish Mountain above Baile Bhúirne, Co. Cork (31 klm ESE) was identified as male ð , the first bird known to leave Kerry and cross the county boundary.A report of a sea eagle seen near Ballybunion, Co. Kerry, on 18 Dec also turned out to bemale ð . This male was relocated at Knockanore hill (57klm N) to the east of Ballybunion on 19 Dec. Bird #8 was recorded at Lough Doire Ianna (33klm SW) on the Iveragh Peninsula on 21 Dec. Bird #4 was a Lough Acoose (1klm W) on 22 Dec. A seaeagle was reported from Caragh Lake on 11 Dec but not confirmed. A report of two seaeagles flying over Rossbeigh was also unconfirmed.

MORTALITY
On 6 Nov the body of female #3 (BTO1655) was recovered after a search of a mountain area SWof the release site. Female #3 had been last observed on the N side of Shehy Mountain in October. This bird did not carry a ?conventional? Vhf transmitter (and so could not be tracked in real time in the field) but instead its position was identified by transmissions to the Argos Satellite System from its solar-powered unit, which gave high quality GPS fixes under good conditions. Unfortunately over a two-week period with little sunlight no location data was transmitted. Over a period of some days prior the position and activity (of the transmitter) indicated that the bird was static. Necropsy at the Regional Vet Lab, Cork, revealed that the bird appeared to be in good condition with no trauma detected (weight 6.5kg). Despite being dead some days, based on presence of large numbers of maggots and moderate autolysis of the internal organs, the carcass had not been scavenged. Lab test results were negative for diseases, toxins. Lead levels of9?mol/kg were considered to be background. Subsequent tests at Cork Institute of Technology revealed small traces of alphachlorolose. However given the levels of autolysis (decomposition) and time between ingestion of this poison and testing, it is likely that these levels were significantly higher at the time of death. Air temperature in late October was occasionally down to near freezing at night perhaps contributing to the effects of the poison causing death by hypothermia. GPS data during October and early November indicated that this bird did not move extensively outside KNP, the furthest satellite fix from the release site being the summit of Tomies Mountain on 17 October(see Fig. 1). However, there were long periods where no data were obtained (18-26 Oct).Likewise there were no data on 29 Oct and only one fix on 30 Oct. Therefore there was no reliable indication of where #3 may have picked up the poison. WTSE #3 was the first mortality of the reintroduction project.

Fig. 1. GPS satellite locations ofWTSE #3 in October-November 2007 (representative selection of locations are shown and all others were within the same range).

INDIVIDUAL WTSE ACCOUNTS

Male YW0: Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period. Visuals on the Upper Lake and in the high hill ground to the west of the Black Valley in early November. Present along with all other birds in the Upper Lake area on early-mid Nov with visuals on several dates. Foraging in the Brida Valley with birds #5 and #6 on 17Dec and L. Brin on 22 Dec.

Male YW1: Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period. Visuals on the Upper Lake and in the high hill ground to the west of the Black Valley in early November. Present along with all other birds in the Upper Lake area on early-mid Nov with visuals on several dates. Moved to the Lower Lake late on 16 Nov and resident therefor the most of the period, particularly at the mouth of the Flesk River of the east side ofthe lake.

Male YW2: Lost its tail mount transmitter in mid-September. First visuals of these birds in some weeks in the Upper Lake area on 12 Nov along with all other birds.Female YW3: Recovered dead in KNP just 1.5klm from the release site on 6 Nov. Female YW4: Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period. Present along with all other birds in the Upper Lake area on early-mid Nov with visuals on several dates. In the Cloon Lough area on 21 Dec and at L. Acoose on 22 Dec but had returned to the Upper Lake area by 29 Dec.

Male YW5: Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period. Visuals on the Upper Lake and in the high hill ground to the west of the Black Valley in early November. Present along with all other birds in the Upper Lake area on early-mid Nov with visuals on several dates. Foraging in the Brida Valley with birds #0 and #6 on 17-18 Dec.

Male YW6: Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period. Present along with all other birds in the Upper Lake area on early-mid Nov with visuals on several dates. Located in flight at the west end of the Black Valley and later seen feeding on sheep carrion on hillside above Lough Reagh on 15 Dec. In the Lough Brin and Brida areas (16klm SW of release site) on 17 Dec. Located at Derriana Lough (33klm SW of release site) between Glencar and Waterville on 21 Dec. Returned to the Upper Lake-Black Valley area by 29 Dec.

Female YW7: Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period.Present along with all other birds in the Upper Lake area on early-mid Nov with visualson several dates. Foraging in the Brida Valley area on 21 Dec.

Male YW8: Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period. Visuals on the Upper Lake and in the high hill ground to the west of the Black Valley in early November. Present along with all other birds in the Upper Lake area on early-mid Nov with visuals on several dates.

Male YW9: Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area up until 12 December. Present along with all other birds in the Upper Lake area on early-mid Nov with visuals on several dates. Moved to the Lower Lake by 13 Dec and mostly resident there for rest of period.

Male YWð : Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area with other birds in the Upper Lake area on early-mid Nov with visuals on several dates. Had been present in KNP up until late on 27 Nov. Reported from Mullaghanish Mountain above Baile Bhúirne, Co.Cork (31 klm ESE) on 28 Nov. The bird was photographed and later caught on video circling over the TV mast on the summit. Tag number was later identified from digital photographs. The birds had left the area by 29 Nov and returned to KNP by 4 Dec but away again on 5 Dec. Returned on 7 Dec but gone again by 8 Dec. Not recorded again until relocated at Knockanore Hill east of Ballybunion in north Kerry, 57klm N of the release site on 19 Dec. This was undoubtedly the same bird reported from near Ballybunion on 18 Dec. By 19 Dec ð had left the area and was moving S towards Ballyduff. Not recorded again by the end of the year despite searches of N. Kerry.Female YWX: Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period.Visuals in the Upper Lake area up to 14 Dec. Foraging in the L. Brin area on 21-22 Dec where observed on ground but not seen feeding.

Female YW?á : Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period with several visuals up to mid-December.

Female YW/: Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period.Feeding on remains of deer shot in the Black Valley on 4 Nov. Visuals in the Upper Lake area up to 14 Dec.

Female YW¦á: Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period with visuals on several dates. May have fed of road killed sheep near Moll?s Gap on 14 Dec.

Thanks to the following observers for information/sightings of eagles:
Joe Adamson,Donal Casey, John Kissane, Tim O?Donoghue.

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Last modified on Friday, 09 March 2012 17:34